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American Express buying fund-and-insurance giant

American Express has agreed to buy Investors Diversified Services, a marketer of mutual funds and life insurance, for $1 billion. IDS is the principal subsidiary of the Alleghany Corporation, which will remain in business as a separate entity.

Alleghany also owns MSL Industries, a steel business, which American Express will take over as part of the deal. In acquiring IDS, American Express gets a company that manages over $17 billion of assets and has over 4,400 salesmen, mainly in smaller Midwest cities.

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The move exemplifies the recent trend in large corporations to acquire investment companies.